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P is for Penguin

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There are few birds on Abydos.

Dr. Daniel Jackson’s unmediated relocation to a planet several thousand light-years across the galaxy (the Egyptian word “million” basically means “lots and lots”) was, like so many adventures of his recent past, a combination of whimsy, inspiration, and blind luck. Unlike any of them, he did it for love. Unlike many of them, it seems to be working out. Like all of them, it has its unexpected moments.

He knew, for example, that the Egyptian culture transplanted to Abydos by Ra more than five thousand years before had been kept in an artificial stasis by its evil alien overlord. He knew, also, that despite Ra's best efforts, it had changed--the fact that it had taken him so long to learn to speak to the Abydans was proof of that.

Beyond that, he hadn't given the matter much thought. Sha're was here, and he loved her, and there was nothing for him back on Earth: his worldly possessions had consisted of two suitcases full of books and a few changes of clothes, and he'd brought most of the books with him.

Still, he felt strangely alone after Colonel O'Neill and the survivors of the Abydos Expedition had left. At least after the flurry of work they'd done to block the Gate, and the long trek back to Nagada.

The Abydans could neither read nor write. Ra had forbidden it. Daniel meant to change that. But aside from Sha're (beloved rebel), the Abydans had little interest in learning. Even Skaara was more interested in the guns the soldiers had left behind than in either the Western alphabet or hieroglyphics.

But Daniel was determined. And when the teacher is determined, the students will appear.

"This, Dan'yel! What is this?" Wenef demanded, pointing at the picture in one of Daniel's precious books.

On Abydos, the men worked in the naquadaah mine, the women spun and wove and cooked and planted crops, and the older boys hunted and herded. Even though nobody now worked the mine, the only group with any particular leisure time was the younger children. Abydans adored their children. So many had been taken from them by Ra that every young life was precious.

Daniel peered at the object in Wenef's hands. He had no idea how the copies of National Geographic had gotten into his suitcase full of books, but at least they had pictures.

"It's a penguin, Wenef," he answered. "A penguin is a bird. They can't fly, though. Actually, they swim, but--"

Wenef, however, was no longer listening. At the word "bird", he had leaped to his feet, and, arms outstretched, had begun doing the dreaded "chicken dance". "Baaaaaaaw!" he shouted. "Baw! Baw! Baw!" The other children immediately joined in. Sha're's soft laughter mingled with the shouting.

"No," Daniel said, rescuing the precious magazine. "No, actually, penguins don't go 'baw-baw-baw'. They sort of..." His voice trailed off. He had no idea what sound a penguin made.

"Tell me, husband, of this 'pan-kwin'," she said, sitting down beside him and taking the magazine from his hands reverently.

Daniel smiled at her. "Well," he said, I guess I'd have to start by telling you about snow..."